Komen CEO Nancy Brinker's salary under fire

While the breast cancer charity cancels races amid a drop in donations, its leader's lavish $684K pay sparks a backlash.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 11, 2013 10:19AM

File photo of Nancy Brinker, founding chair of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, at the National Press Club in Washington on Nov. 23, 2009 (© Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)Susan G. Komen, the largest breast cancer charity, has struggled financially over the past two years after a controversy involving Planned Parenthood led to a drop in donations and the cancellation of some races. 

But those challenges apparently aren't reflected in its chief executive's pay. CEO Nancy Brinker has received a whopping 64% raise, bringing her salary to $684,000 a year, NBC News reports.

Komen said the raise, which was disclosed recently in tax documents, came in November 2010, before the issues arose with Planned Parenthood and the charity had to cut half of its 3-Day races for 2014.

One watchdog group called her salary "extremely high."

"It's about a quarter of a million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size. . . . This is more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross," Ken Berger, the president and CEO of charity evaluator Charity Navigator, told NBC. 

Brinker is outearning not only her equal at the Red Cross but those at several other large charities as well. Feeding America, the fourth-largest U.S. charity, pays its CEO about $409,000, according to Charity Navigator. Komen ranks as the country's 40th-largest charity, according to Forbes.

Komen defended Brinker's salary. A spokeswoman noted she "did not receive a pay increase in 2011 and did not accept one in 2012, nor will she receive one in 2013." Brinker said last year she would leave her role, but she's still sitting in the CEO seat. 

Brinker's spending was the focus of a 2012 report from the Daily Beast, which noted that the former U.S. ambassador to Hungary billed the foundation $133,507 in expenses in a roughly 19-month period. 

At the time of the expense claims, Brinker was actually a full-time federal employee, having been tapped by President George W. Bush to serve as the chief of protocol for the State Department.

The expenses, which covered some travel and office costs, were approved by Komen's board because Brinker was the founder of the group, the story said. 

Komen, which raises money through a series of running events, suffered a drop in race participation after it stopped funding Planned Parenthood, which angered many of its supporters. (Komen also supports the use of pink-ribbon marketing by corporate partners such as General Mills' (GIS) Yoplait.)

The latest controversy is only ramping up more anger against the organization. 

Breast cancer survivor and former Komen race participant Lisa Bonchek Adams told the Daily Beast, "If Nancy Brinker were smart, she'd say: 'Gee, I took $685,000 in salary last year. Whatever we need to make these events go on, how about I give up my salary for a year?'"

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

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Jun 11, 2013 11:03AM
This type of thing is why I don't donate to most charities.  
Jun 11, 2013 10:34AM
Shame on her for taking advantage of kind-hearted, charitable people.
Jun 11, 2013 11:50AM
When donating time and money, keep in mind there is one shining light among the big charities: the Salvation Army.
S/A's Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a salary of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 Billion dollar organization. And he does it very very well!

Jun 11, 2013 10:54AM

Lot`s of charities pay the top brass big bucks.Don`t forget all the perks they receive.If

they really believed in the cause, wouldn`t 50k a year be fine?

Jun 11, 2013 11:03AM

My advice is to give direct to the people you would like to Help.

Jun 11, 2013 11:10AM
Most of these large charities - the several cancer ones, United Way,  Red Cross, Blood Banks, Community 'Help' organizations, etc. - have bloated staffs with grossly overpaid executives. If you want your charitable contributions to really go to help the disadvantaged pick the Salvation Army.
Jun 11, 2013 11:12AM

Google the phrase "Red Cross scandals" and you'll see that many of the big name charities have these types of issues.  The more money involved, the bigger the fiefdom, the greater the abuse of power. 

Jun 11, 2013 11:43AM
This "foundation" has become nothing but a political lobbying firm that uses breast cancer as a way to raise money.  Anyone who gives to this "charity" is being taken for a fool.
Jun 11, 2013 11:00AM
Wherever you find a psychopath, you find an excuse for outrageous compensation and ridiculous privileges. Until we recognize the problem and identify them, we will keep seeing this. Charities are platforms for the corrupt to take advantage of the rest of us. We need to stop "giving" and start doing for the sake of all of us.  
Jun 11, 2013 11:18AM
There is a hospital charity(for kids) where the 2 fund raisers heading it are both making about the same amount of money that this Komen CEO does.  I decided to do the math, it takes about 12 thousand $50 donations just to cover the salaries of these fund raisers before the hospital sees any money.
Jun 11, 2013 12:22PM
I would never knowingly contribute to any charity where the CEO receives a six figure income.  That's why I like the Salvation Army where the top officer's pay is in the moderate 5 figures.  One wants to see charitable donations spent on the purpose intended, not to enrich some executive.
Jun 11, 2013 12:23PM

The lady ginned up a wondrous "good works nonprofit" cash cow and has been living high off it for years. Flushed with arrogance, her board felt free to screw the pooch with that neocon Planned Parenthood defunding directive a while back.


Hopefully the dame is kaput, but let's be charitable. Before she goes let her hit the expense account for one more facelift. Based on her photo, seeing that mess walk down the street has GOT to be rough on children and small animals.

Jun 11, 2013 12:21PM
It's non-profit for a reason, whatever is profit is spent on the CEO and luxury perks.
Jun 11, 2013 1:11PM
Only one penny of every dollar donated goes to breast cancer research.  They will never get another penny from me.
Jun 11, 2013 11:13AM
Jun 11, 2013 11:11AM
don't worry.  the other charities will raise the salary of THEIR CEO's and all will be right with the world! 
Jun 11, 2013 11:16AM

Plus I"ve heard that Komin sues orginaizations for using the phrase "The Cure"

Jun 11, 2013 11:30AM
I make donations to several different charity organizations including Alzheimer association, Paralyzed Veterans of wars, Wounded veterans of wars, etc. Now I'm not sure how those money is used. My salary is way lower than $684K......
Jun 11, 2013 1:36PM
These leaches are not worth a dime...All donations should stop and hold the donations until she quits or they fix the pay scales...This whole deal is obcene.
Jun 11, 2013 12:44PM
It's pretty clear she isn't spending her salary on a good plastic surgeon.

Here's a link to Charitywatch.com...
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